Why Can't I Make a Payment?


Greetings Community!


Today’s topic du jour happens to be the occasional yet always frustrating “Why can’t I make a payment?


If you search around here on the boards, you’ll find many conversations about the inability to send money.  We completely understand this frustration; even us employees can be subject to these same issues.  But rather than get frustrated to the point of wanting to chuck your computer through the nearest open window, let’s discuss some of the reasons why you may not be able to make your payment, and what can maybe be done about it. 


  • Security model- We have a security model that looks at every transaction going through our system.  It decides if it’s going to allow a payment or not.  While we’re really good about preventing fraud, there are some instances where we catch a fully legitimate payment.  That’s certainly not the intent of it, but it can happen.
    • What can you do to ‘fix’ this? Not much beyond giving us a call so we can review your account. When you call in and we review your account with you, there may be options that present themselves.  And while I’m sure there are many people who would like to know exactly what we’re looking at, we can’t provide that as it undermines PayPal effectiveness at minimizing fraud.  If we tell people how we protect them, and the ‘bad people’ stop doing that, PayPal is less effective in protecting you. 
  • Identity validation- This happens most often ifyou’re traveling and trying to usePayPal.  Since our system has no way to verify if the activity from another location is you, as opposed to someone with your password pretending to be you, it will present an identity challenge. You’ll be asked to answer a call from us (or receive a text message to your registered cell phone), provide the full bank account number or credit card number, or maybe some personal questions about your identity. This is to make sure‘you’ are really‘you’.
    • I can’t complete what it’s asking for!- This will sometimes happen if the information we have on file is outdated.  However, if you hit cancel on the option that’s presented our system will provide other options if there's something else we can use to verify you . So if you first see something that doesn’t work for you, there’s a good possibility that something else is just a click away!
  • Communication errors- PayPal’s a very complex system doing many intricate things, all while communicating with all of our merchants systems.  And while we spend large amounts of time improving our systems to make them work better for you, sometimes issues arise that impair our systems' interactions with our merchants.  This sort of situation is where the 'random' error messages come from (10486, I’m looking at you here). Also, there will be instances of something completely different happening (like our security model), but it's such a rare situation that we haven't created an error message specific to the situation (see this thread as an example).
    • How can I fix that? Please be patient while we get things corrected.  That's really all there is to it. We'll get it fixed ASAP so you can make your payment, but from your end of it there's very little you would be able to do.  😞
  • Funding source denials- Which looks pretty much like our security model. Except it’s not us telling you no, it’s your card company.  In a lot of cases, it’s because something has recently changed either on yourPayPal account or with your credit card company.  We always check the address on yourPayPal against what’s in your card company’s systems. If something doesn’t match, the card will be denied.  Also, this will come from having insufficient funds for the card (if it’s a debit card).
    • What to do with this?-  Before calling anyone, I would recommend checking your PayPal account and making sure that your info is up to date, keeping in mind that anything that has been changed with your credit card company can take awhile to trickle down to us. So if you've moved and changed your address yesterday, there's a very good likelihood of it not working right away. Also, and this may sound somewhat silly, but make sure that you have a balance on the card. Many times we'll receive a generic denial from the card issuer that is due to not having a sufficient balance on the card. Once you've made sure all of the information is accurate and have checked to make sure you have a balance, you'll probably be better off giving your card issuer a call. While it's possible they may direct you back to us in most cases whatever the 'fix' is would have to come from their side, so it's best to just start there. And if all else fails you can always get in touch with us so we can look into it from our end!


Now, all of these are from the buyer’s side of things.  But what happens if you’re a seller and aren’t able to receive any money? Or your buyers are coming to you about their inability to pay you?  You can check here for site status to see any issues that may be affecting your customers.  Beyond this, have your customers give us a call so we can review their account and see where the problem lies.  In most cases, it’s one of the above that is stopping their payment and we can only resolve that with them.


So this is it. The greatest hits of payment denials. Of course there will always the one-off situations that don't quite fit into one of these situations, but the moral of this post, if there is one, is to give us a call if you're having problems.  We definitely want you to make your payments--it's kinda what we're here for after all. And while it may seem like there's many things keeping you from doing that, know that if it's possible we'll make it happen.  We would just ask for your understanding when we run up against something that stops us all.



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